Chiddingfold Reserves 1 v Keens Park Rangers Reserves 0

Man of the match: George Searle

Bookings: Adam East, James Blackburn, Charlie Pocock

The age-old debate of nature over nurture popped up during the ressies defeat to Chiddingfold. However, if our genetics do influence behaviour any objective observer of this match would have to conclude that ‘environment’ also plays a significant factor.

Cold drizzle on the day might have put off the less timid but it was the Chiddingfold pitch, despite a relatively dry winter, that lived down to its reputation. The term quagmire would not be misplaced and conditions underfoot all but ended what could have been a good ‘football’ match.

Commitment from both sides was excellent but, in the final analysis, the home side knew how to deal with the conditions whereas the ressies – many of whom were wearing mouldies – took far too long to work out what was required and, then, implement it. Nonetheless, it was a compelling match.

The opening ten minutes were dominated by Chiddingfold, but captain Callum Toone, and fellow centre back Adam East, mopped up the opposition’s attacks with some full-blooded tackles. Despite this pressure, the ressies had the best chance of the half after James Nixon shrugged off a late challenge. Having shown good form of late many supporters were on the verge of celebrating after Nixon slotted the ball past the keeper but they were frustrated when the ball went agonizingly wide of the far post.

Late challenges were common among the opposition’s players and one challenge on Charlie Pocock in particular really ought to have resulted in a booking. But, having been beyond lenient with the opposition’s number three, the referee then booked East for a tackle that barely raised a whimper from the Chiddingfold players or their supporters. The ressies supporters, on the other hand, were apoplectic!

As regular readers of these reports know, it is in East’s nature to thrive on the more robust aspects of play and the booking with an hour of play left, in conditions that begged for sliding tackles, did much to diminish his effectiveness.

The second half began much like the first with the opposition’s forwards, now playing downhill, finding much more space than their defence afforded the ressies. Under pressure something was likely to give and it was the luckless East who missed a challenge to concede a penalty. East claims the forward left his foot hanging but nobody on the touchline felt an injustice had occurred.

Keeper James Mullins could do little about the penalty but he was required to produce a brilliant double save to keep the deficit at one.

Although the ressies were grafting their inability to adapt to the conditions really showed. The Chiddingfold back four were excellent in dealing with anything down the middle and it was only when the ressies attacked down each flank that they ever posed problems.

Regrettably, good deliveries from Pocock and Connor Reeves consistently arrived into a penalty box bereft of forwards although Nixon had the ball in the back of the net after some good approach play from Pocock. Having scored the Chiddingfold linesman flagged to suggest the ball had gone out of play and the referee, despite the linesman’s less than ideal positioning, surprised no one in disallowing the goal.

Co-manager James Blackburn freshened things up with two substitutions that, this week, included a season’s debut for himself. After a long period of recovery it was pleasing to see but so desperate was Mungo to get involved his first contribution was a tackle that led to a booking. In possession the ressies were dwelling on the ball too long but they still managed to create chances that required a couple of saves from the opposition keeper. The keeper was beaten all ends up by a sweet strike from Reeves but it hit the bar so squarely a muddy imprint of the ball was left behind.

So muddy were the conditions even assistant manager Tigger would have struggled to maintain his reputation for avoiding getting muddy. Man of the match George Searle was caked in the stuff but he was most unfortunate in completing the job when whacked in the face by the ball from close range.

A final booking for Pocock confirmed it wasn’t to be the ressies day although, the equally frustrated, East finally got a break. Having unceremoniously booted an opposition player, East escaped a second yellow card when the referee chose to save himself some paperwork and blow the final whistle instead.

Never a squad to be too despondent, a pub stop off on the way home soon livened the mood. Trendy beers and pork scratchings would put a smile on most faces but it was the Crayola © crayons that perked up Ryan ‘Midgers’ Midgely who, rather than eat them, ‘enthralled’ everyone with his artwork. Any primary school teacher would have awarded him a gold star for his firework but it was a shame the team’s performance on the day proved to be a damp squib.

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